Thursday, March 19, 2009


After some disheartening situations in his first year as a public school teacher last year at the local Tupelo High School, Rob has had a wonderful year as the ESL teacher at the one of the K-12 schools in neighboring Pontotoc County.

Pontotoc County is a much more rural district, and the elementary, middle and high schools are located together on the same site. This gives the school much more of a down-home family sort of feel than Tupelo, and the urban-gang culture that afflicts so many schools these days is practically non-existent here. Even better, the principal here is a really great principal, which makes for a great environment for everybody, teachers and students alike.

Rob's job here is to provide ESL (English as a Second Language) tutorial classes to all of the ELL (English Language Learner) students in grades K-12. Most of his time is spent in the elementary school, where he provides inclusion (in the regular classroom) services for some grades and pull-out (small groups in the ESL classroom, pictured above) services for other grades. The middle and high-school kids come as one group from each school for a tutorial/study hall class in the middle of the day. Overall, Rob works with about 45 students throughout the day, most of whom come from Spanish-speaking families.

Rob's classroom is in the back of the school, in the left half of this doublewide classroom-trailer. It might sound kind of ghetto, but because of extreme space limitations due to local population growth (they really need to build a new school!), there was really no place else to move the ESL classroom when they had to add another kindergarten room to meet demand. And in fact, the classroom is really pretty nice and spacious inside, so we aren't complaining at all.

Rob says: "Working here is a really rewarding experience on many levels. It's especially rewarding knowing that I'm helping to make an important positive impact on such wonderful kids who are facing educational challenges due to their situations. Every day I catch myself smiling in delight over something one of my kids has said or done, or over something that I've just learned. And I've learned so much at this job about working with kids of all different ages, and especially about all the different aspects of teaching children to read. I think this will help me to be a better father and mentor to Rowan, which may be the most rewarding part of all."

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